What’s your job title, or a short description about what you do?
I am a Creative Director. I studied Graphic Design, moved into art direction and now creative direction. I manage a team of designers, art directors and finished artists.
What is your main specialty/expertise/niche?
I specialise in graphic design, illustration and advertising. I also do a lot of retouching which crosses over from “normal” retouching into illustration – the line is very blurred for me.
Where do you work now?
Currently I am at Fuel Creative in Sydney. I am planning an extended holiday at the beginning of 2013 so who knows after that!
What companies have you worked for?
I have worked for only a few companies in full time positions, a lot of my work has been freelance.
What type of clients do you have or do you work for?
I have quite a varied list of clients, some clients have been my old employers that get me to do special projects with them both in design and illustration or branding, product design etc. Some companies I have worked for are: Coca-Cola, Canon, Sony, Sony Music, Live Nation, Michael Coppel, Parallel Management for The Presets and Zowie, Austar, Mattel – to name a few.
What does your job involve?
As a creative director it is my job to interact with clients and take briefs with our accounts team. From there I write a brief for the creatives that I will be working with that answers the clients brief/problem etc. I pull visual references and decide on the overall look of a campaign is going to be and also do some copy writing to hone in on the messaging and what we need to communicate. My role is hands on so I often carry this through to creating the artwork myself, directing photo shoots, I actually do a lot of the work myself or in conjunction with other designers that I work with. Sometimes there can be five of us working on the one campaign, it’s my job to bring all that together, maintain quality and consistency and ultimately make sure the client is happy, and also that we are happy with the work.
What’s the funnest thing about your job?
The funnest thing about my job is being creative every day. I love seeing my work on billboards when am out and about in the city. The most fun thing is getting my ideas off the ground in a functioning way for my clients and helping them to achieve their goals. Being creative means that we can listen to music and don’t have to wear suits – what’s not to love about that.
How did you get into doing what you do?
I just fell into what I do now really, through the years you pick up new skills, get a new job and you skills develop. The freelance work that I have done throughout my career has usually been quite different from my full time roles so I have always had diversity in my work which I love, it keeps things interesting and I am constantly challenged. I get a lot of my work through people I know, or word of mouth.
Did you have to do some specialist study?
Do you count a university degree as specialist study? Let’s say yes, a degree shapes our minds and teaches us the basic building blocks of how to think, and how to create as professional designers. But I think we are always learning – always developing our skills. Life changes so rapidly these days with the internet so I think the best kid of learning aside from any technical knowledge which you naturally pick up from collaborating with other creatives is the learning that happens while you live your life. University can’t really prepare you for all the challenges you face in your career, it’s a great starting point but keeping an open mind is just if not more important. Never stop learning.
What are some of the most impressive things you have done in your career?
I have really enjoyed working on my music clients, working with people like The Presets and Zowie are always fun projects and I am a huge music fan.
Tell us about your most glamorous/impressive projects/jobs?
Working with big brand clients can sometimes be glamorous, Coca-Cola is one of the most recognised brands in the worlds so it has been great to work on something so iconic and huge. I also art directed V music festival in 2009, that was great and had so many aspects like designing advertising, maps, way finding, I did all the posters for the band’s side shows, designed merchandise like Tshirts etc. I designed a Tamagotchi packaging. I have designed Barbie cars. I have designed artwork for music CDs.
Have you won any awards? prizes?
The only award that I have won is at The Southern Cross Packaging Awards while I was at uni. The award was for a concept I developed for a recyclable, refillable shampoo and shower gel product that used a squishy bladder vessel that clipped on to elasticated end pieces for support.
Met or worked with or for any celebs or royalty?
I guess The Presets are probably the most famous people I have worked with professionally. I have met quite a few famous people actually and can call some my friends as well. All famous people are still just people like you and me – it only makes a difference sometimes like getting special entry into clubs or free drinks!
Have you been published in special publications?
No – I wish I had more though, I guess my work is widely published anyway do to the scale of the campaigns I have worked on. Magazines don’t know about me though!
Have you been able to travel with your job (please provide some information)?
I have been fortunate to travel to Los Angeles a couple of times while I was working as art director for the Hot Wheels brand for Mattel. I was flown to L.A. a couple of times to attend the international design summit where they assembled all of their creative heads from around the world for a special conference where we all discuss the nature of our local markets, what things work and don’t work. By sharing information we gain a lot of insights and it helps to drive the brands we are working on to reach their full potential.
Any other special perks you’re willing to share?
Free drinks? Free entry to clubs?
Anything else? Remember we want to impress everyone about how fantastic you are doing! don’t be humble, let fly with the gold!
I like seeing people wearing Tshirts that I have designed, I have to resist the urge to go up to them and say I DESIGNED THAT. Seeing people wearing my stuff is always great, it is real, they have chosen to wear it that day – it makes me more happy than seeing my work on a billboard.
Where did you grow up in Gippsland?
What are your fondest memories of living here?
Probably my friends and family, I loved having space, nature, animals and a slower pace of life too. It felt isolated, but also special.
What school/s did you go to?
I went to St. Michaels primary and CRC secondary.
Were there any special teachers that made a lasting impression on you, even into your career?
I think all of my art and graphics teachers were great for me – very encouraging, which builds confidence. I remember all of them fondly. Frank Mesaric at CRC was great to me, very encouraging.
What subjects did you do at school that led you to this career?
I did art and graphics which are directly related, but I also took Psychology which helps to understand the human mind better. English is probably the most important though, having writing skills really does assist with my every day work as my profession takes me more into a communication role and less about the pictorial or visual. They said that you didn’t need a high TER to get into my course, but when I got there all the kids that were accepted were at the top – so working hard and getting good marks at school is essential, it also shows commitment that universities are looking for.
Tell us about when you first left gippsland and why?
I left Gippsland just after I finished VCE to study Design at Monash University in Caulfield.
Tell us about how your life changed after you left Gippsland?
Life changed too much, living in a big city is very different from the country. I was glad that I worked hard at school, got good marks and had good creative work that enabled me to get into uni, which is hugely competitive to be accepted. Just moving from the country to a big city is so exciting generally as well. I learned so much at uni, not just from lecturers, but also from the friends I met there and I am still friends with.
What kind of things in Gippsland helped lead you to the career path you have now? (certain festivals, activities, shops that you’d visit, local people who put you onto something)
To be honest there wasn’t a lot going on in Gippsland when I was there. We didn’t even have the internet back then, so inspiration came mainly from books and teachers and my friends or TV. I wish I had the internet when I was at school!
What is the biggest thing Gippsland is missing?
Well really I should say that nothing is missing, but in reality I guess because of the smaller population it simply can’t support the kinds of things that a big city can like festivals, art galleries, design galleries or even the kinds of clients that creative people would really love to work with. Gippsland is missing the INDUSTRY that is my profession, to work on big stuff you generally need to be in a capital city I think, or be very well connected.
How could our area improve to support creative people?
I think that the area is a very blue collar area with the powers station, mill etc so a general broadening of the mind to include other creative vocations would be great. To be honest I think most people in Gippsland do love art and design but aren’t as exposed to it as much so it is hard for people to really understand what kinds of opportunities there are out there for young people wanting to get into creative fields. Also because most positions are in big cities the knowledge doesn’t get passed back through the community in the same way that it would for other jobs like being an electrician at Loy Yang would for example.
What things were missing when you lived here to help support your interests?
The Internet! Being able to be in touch with what was going on in the world. Shops that sold more design books and good design generally would also have been great. Other creative people aside from my school friends, I didn’t know any designers or anyone that was working in a creative field when i was in Gippsland so I was taking a big step into the unknown, thankfully it paid off.
Do you still have connections with Gippsland?
My family are still there, and I still have a few friends there too.
Do you come back and if so how regularly?
I wish it could be more – it is a bit more difficult to find the time when you live in another state.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Everywhere! – Being alive is inspirational. Inspiration comes from the way we live our lives and the things we love. Inspiration comes from so many places like nature, films, music, art, friends, travelling internationally and the internet of course. I think the biggest thing is just to pay attention to what is going on around you, don’t scared to think differently, stop listening to what other people think and focus on what YOU think. Trust yourself. Be kind and kindness will come.
Who are your heroes?
SO many/mixed bag: Paul Rand, Maira Kalman, Da Vinci, Comme Des Garcons, Dieter Rams, M/M Paris, Kate Bush, Bjork, Pedro Almodovar, David Lynch. I am forgetting a million!
What advice would you give to someone who might want to get into a career like yours?
Be prepared to work hard, don’t let other people tell you that you can’t do something, half the time we are all bluffing! You can’t know you CAN’T do something until you have tried. Have an open mind. Don’t judge. Don’t assume you know anything, listening is the key – Learning is the key. Skills will always come, it is what you do with your mind that is important. Don’t forget to have a good life while you are working, staying enthusiastic about life brings energy to your work. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar – be polite, say thank you, be grateful – smile.